The Humility Factor

When I was growing up, my dad would sometimes caution me with the words “don’t get a big head over it.” It was advice which usually came when I was bragging about some great accomplishment I thought I had achieved. My father was a proponent of the biblical admonition: “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” Touting your own accomplishments was not something my dad favored.

Probably, because of his influence, I have always put humility right up there at the top of human virtues along with “faith, hope and love.”

For that reason, I cannot see how my father could have become a big supporter of our current president. Humility to President Trump is a bad word connoting weakness. Donald Trump is all about being the biggest, the greatest, the best — and he tells you that all the time.

My dad was a Republican and served as supervisor of the town of Kiantone and on the county Board of Supervisors. Yet, I remember him telling me that he had supported President Harry Truman, a Democrat, in 1951 when he had fired General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur had become “too big for his britches,” and had disobeyed orders from the president. MacArthur was known for being a self-promoter with a big ego, and that also didn’t sit well with my father.

Coming back from a recent trip on I-86, we drove into Corning and past Amo Houghton’s family home. I was always a big Amo fan, and on occasion was in that home to have breakfast with him to talk about old times and current events. Amo, though wealthy and the only chairman of a Fortune 500 Company ever to serve in Congress, was also a principled, down-to-earth and humble man. He was my Dad’s kind of Republican — and, I guess, my kind too.

In 2016, Amo wrote these words for newspaper publication: “Donald Trump is not a man in whom I have great respect. He represents, sadly, all the things I reject in a leader — he is a bully; he fudges the truth; he turns on those who think differently. He hides critical parts of his life–business failures, tax returns–and I could go on.”

Though Trump carried Chautauqua County that year, it did not deter Amo Houghton from repeating similar views when interviewed by a reporter in 2018. They bear repeating this year, especially since three other former New York Republican Representatives — Jack Quinn, Susan Molinari and James Walsh — recently announced their support for Joe Biden. They find Biden to be a decent, honorable man who has shown as senator and vice president that he can work with others to help solve the problems of the country.

Some might think this is just partisan talk because I am a Democrat. But I am a democrat with a small “d” these days and I primarily want to see someone elected who can help unify and bring the country back together. We have had enough of grandstanding and the politics of fear and blame.

Besides, it is my country too and so I thought I should weigh in on the choice before us. You can’t really poll people on such an intangible concept as humility, but I think it could be a deciding factor in this year’s election.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.


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